By Kelby Carr
It can be tempting to be snarky online. By nature, social media makes it easy. In fact, it encourages snarkiness. The online space is one in which people shine by having a witty personality, and it’s also a place that can feel misleadingly anonymous.
But there is a fine line between clever and crude. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you post, tweet, update, email or otherwise share snarkiness online.
Would you say it in person?
Before you share something, particularly if it could be taken as an offense to a certain person or group of people, ask yourself if you would say it to someone’s face. This is often a great litmus test for whether or not something is over-the-top. It can be easy to hide behind the monitor and behave in ways we never would in real life.
Does it read like it sounds?
Without the inflection of voice and without body language, things like sarcasm and silliness do not always translate online. Many times sharing something online -- especially on sites that limit characters, like Twitter -- can alter the perceived meaning dramatically.
If you aren’t sure, read it a few times, read it out loud in different tones and emphasize different words, or send the comment to a friend to ask what they think you meant. Ask what their gut reaction is.
“Snark is easier to interpret as humor when spoken,” explains Ilina Ewen, a marketing consultant and brand strategist who blogs at Dirt & Noise. “When used in writing, it might require some follow-up supporting thoughts, proper inflection and a sense of humor throughout the piece.”
It is snarky or just mean?
There is a dramatic difference between being snarky in a manner that engages, and mean in a way that is a big turnoff. It’s great to be edgy, but it’s not necessary to be cruel.
“I think it’s OK to take a snarky tone if it’s a subject that has a universal disdain, like parents who are competitive, tailgating drivers or litterers,” said Ewen. “But it’s not acceptable if the snark becomes a personal attack. You always want to approach a snarky tone with a sense of humor, not a wicked, mean stab.”
Kelby Carr is a pioneer of the social mom blog. She was named one of the 50 Most Influential and Powerful Women in Social Media and is member of a Nielson advisory board on mom bloggers. She blogs at KelbyCarr.com and operates a network of parenting sites.
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